Paula Cole wows 'em at the Beacon Theater

Paula Cole in a blonde wig, body-clinging dress and feather boa, sexily mouthing words of love in French. Nope, that’s not a weird SNL skit. It’s a description of the Grammy-winning singer’s second encore at Manhattan?s Beacon Theater last Thursday. A sell-out crowd watched the 30-year-old chanteuse don the glamorous disguise and close her 90-minute show with the sultry Edith Piaf classic “La Vie en Rose.”

Cole, who kicked off an eight-city mini-tour with the New York show, performed most of the night in her normal attire: a simple brown dress and dark Pocahontas pigtails. Highlights of the concert included a rousing rendition of “Throwing Stones” that brought the audience to its feet, and her performances on a surprising variety of instruments, including clarinet, piano, guitar, tambourine and bass drum. Cole’s banter with the crowd brought an unusually intimate mood to the large theater. She reminisced about her past as “that gawky 14-year-old with braces who wanted to be a cheerleader.”

As a treat for family members who attended the concert and hometown fans (Cole lives in New York City), she included the stage premier of a new pop ballad “Free.” Then she ended the show with a montage of home movies that showed her singing and dancing from the age of five or so through her college years. Cole, who expects to head into the studio this fall to work on her new album, closes this leg of her American tour with seven more shows in Boston, Atlanta, Memphis and elsewhere.